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Cases Test The Border Patrol’s Police Powers

Several ongoing court cases are testing the authority that United States Border Patrol agents have to enforce laws not within their jurisdiction.

Vermont Public Radio reports on two cases. In one, a Border Patrol agent detained a woman he suspected of driving under the influence until a state trooper arrived on the scene.

The trooper cited the woman for a DUI. But the woman challenged her case in court, and a Vermont judge ruled her detention by the Border Patrol agent had indeed been unjustified.

As the woman's attorney told Vermont Public Radio:

[C]ourts are clarifying lines of authority as an increasing number of Border Patrol Agents cover more territory farther and farther from the U.S. border.

The number of Border Patrol agents has more than doubled in the last decade as Congress has funded increased border security measures. The immigration reform bill that passed the U.S. Senate this summer would double the number of agents yet again, to roughly 40,000, leading some critics to fear a greater Border Patrol presence in communities farther from the U.S.-Mexico and Canada borders.

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